Monday, December 21, 2009

Crypto-Catholics - Sun Worshippers at the Winter Solstice?

Every year around Daylight Savings Time in the fall and the time change leaving it in the spring I notice that the sign shines so brightly through the stain glassed window at our church, Immaculate Heart of Mary, that whole sections of the pews are unoccupied because parishioners would be starring straight into bright sunlight only partially filtered by the glass. I have a long term project to map those areas of the church but I need to get in there with a measuring tape to develop a good floor plan to do so.

One thing that I have done is notice the odd position the church has on its lot. It is not straight but on the diagonal. In fact, running a line through the church center and through the stain glassed window in the front of the church as in the diagram above shows that the church is oriented to face 123 degrees on a compass, or almost southeast by east. Why should it have that particular orientation. Using the Planetarium program on my trusty Treo or any website which gives a sunrise at 120 at 8:19am today, suspiciously close to the 123 degrees, give or take, of the orientation of the church.

Or it could be that the church is just facing the corner and its angle bisects the two roads that make up the southeast corner of the lot, Shipley Rd, which is the more north to south road, and Weldin Road which is the more east and west road. I used the New Castle County Parcel Search map function (IHM parcel) to get exact coordinates for the roads. These roads are not exactly aligned to a North, South East West grid or the church would point at 135 degrees (90 plus 45). The roads are canted slightly counter clockwise from the grid, which points the church at the sun. (click the picture below for larger)

The final choice I leave up to my capable readers. Is the church pointed at sunrise on the Winter Solstice in homage to the secret sun worshipping sect that took over the church at the time of Constantine, or is it just pointed aesthetically at the corner of the two roads that define the lots? Conspiracy or coincidence?

(I used the New Castle County Parcel Search and the mapping function there for pictures and maps. I also got some maps, aerial photography and coordinates and much more at the Delaware DataMIL, also click on the Map Lab for customer maps and the coordinate system I used to find the street orientations.)


The Virtual Ranger said...

I don't know if this is the case elsewhere but in England almost all churches are oriented with the sanctuary (altar end) to the east, for the morning sun. This is especially true of older churches (and its not at all uncommon for churches, or parts of them, to be 1000 years old) where it's pretty much invariable. Similarly bodies are traditionally buried with their feet facing east (towards the altar) so they can rise and greet the morning sun when the resurrection comes.

I've always suspected that this ancient tradition has some pagan connection.

Anonymous said...

Clearly built by a bunch of heathens. Five Hail Marys, and two bloody Marys and everyone should be alright